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Gabi Ngcobo appointed new director of Kunstinstituut Melly

The Supervisory Board of Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam announces the appointment of Gabi Ngcobo as its new director. A renowned curator internationally, Ngcobo begins her tenure in January 2024. Ngcobo arrives at this position from South Africa, where she is Curatorial Director of the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria.

Ngcobo will succeed Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, director since 2018 and who concludes her position at the end of 2023. At Kunstinstituut Melly, a director has a maximum tenure of six years.

In recent years, Ngcobo was key in positioning Javett-UP as a living academy. She organized several exhibitions there since 2021, as well as new commissions with artists Oscar Murillo, Nolan Oswald Dennis and Luana Vitra, among others. Previously, Ngcobo was the curator of the tenth edition of the Berlin Biennale in 2018, We Don’t Need Another Hero, and was part of the curatorial team of the thirty-second edition of the São Paulo Biennale in 2016, Incenteza Viva. A short bio of Gabi Ngcobo is included below.

The director’s search at Kunstinstituut Melly included an open call, including a position profile made by its Supervisory Board. Annet Lekkerkerker is chair of Kunstinstituut Melly’s Supervisory Board; the chair of the search committee was Yolande Zola Zoli van der Heide. The other board members are Fariba Derakhshani, Timme Geerlof, Stijn Huijts, Annuska Pronkhorst, Gabriel Lester, and Yin Yin Wong. Short bios for each of them can be found here.

Since Kunstinstituut Melly’s foundation in 1990, the appointed directors have been given meaningful time, resources and support to direct and program at the institution. Its former directors are: Chris Dercon from 1990 to 1995; Bartomeu Marí from 1996 to 2001; Catherine David from 2002 to 2004; Hans Maarten van den Brink, interim director from May 2004 to April 2006; Nicolaus Schafhausen from 2006 to 2011; and Defne Ayas from 2012 to 2017.

About Gabi Ngcobo


Since 2021, Gabi Ngcobo has been the Curatorial Director of the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) in South Africa. For years, she has also developed independent curatorial projects and collaborated with various institutions in different parts of the world. Among these are The Show is Over (2022) at the South London Gallery, in the UK, which she co-organized with artist Oscar Murillo, and The ‘t’ is Silent (2021) at the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenes in Deurle, Belgium. In 2018, she curated the tenth edition of the Berlin Biennale in Germany: We Don’t Need Another Hero. In 2016, she was one of the co-curators of the 32nd São Paulo Biennial in Brazil: Incenteza Viva.

Ngcobo has also been a lecturer at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg. She is also a founding member of the Johannesburg-based collaborative platforms NGO – Nothing Gets Organised (f. 2016), and was a co-founder of the Center for Historical Reenactments (2010-2014). Her writing has been published widely. Recent essays were included in the exhibition catalogs Shooting Down Babylon: The Tracey Rose Retrospective (2022) at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa; Uneven Bodies (2021) at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, Aotearoa New Zealand; and, The Stronger We Become (2019) in the South African Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Italy.


Kunstinstituut Melly’s mission is to present exhibitions and organize activities that engage the public in experiencing and learning from the latest developments in contemporary art and theory. It creates exhibitions, publications, and educational programs of artistic merit and cultural significance. It also commissions new art, supports innovative research, and advocates for cultural partnerships. Kunstinstituut Melly conducts original curatorial work, fosters public dialogue, and welcomes audiences year-round in its +3,500m2 nineteenth-century building, located at 50 Witte de Withstraat in the Cool District of Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Kunstinstituut Melly is supported by the City of Rotterdam and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science in The Netherlands. In 2023, support was also provided by grants from AMMODO, Hartwig Foundation, and Droom en Daad, among others. Project support is earned through fundraising activities, individual donations, and foundation grants.